A medical assistant, who is a crucial part of a health care team, performs medical-related administrative work and clinical tasks in support of the work of doctors and other health professionals. The type of work that a medical assistant can do, which often depends on the rules in his or her jurisdiction, usually requires varying degrees of training and certification provided by various medical assistant schools and governing bodies.
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Some of the tasks medical assistants perform include the following:
- measuring the vital signs of patients
- administering medication and injections
- recording information for use in record keeping
- preparing and handling medical supplies and instruments
- collecting and preparing bodily tissues and fluids for laboratory testing
However, a medical assistant may also be tasked with administrative work including answering phones, greeting patients, and filling out forms.
How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Schools for You
To know which program is best for you, you have to be clear about the types of work you want to be able to do and the training and certifications required for you to be able to perform them. This is an important first step because you might end up wasting your time attending medical assistant schools or courses that don’t match your work objectives.
For example, if you simply want to answer phones, keep financial records, and do standard paperwork in a doctor’s clinic, you might not need to complete any courses at all. However, if you would like to be able to administer injections and handle medical instruments, you definitely need training from among the various schools for medical assistant available and will probably have to pass the medical assistant certification exam.
When you’ve figured out what type of medical assisting you want to do and what type of training and certifications you’ll need, the next step is to choose from among the medical administrative assistant schools that meet your needs.
Here are some questions to ask about schools for medical assistant you are considering attending, as well as the program you are planning to complete:
- Do they offer the certifications I need?
- Are they accredited to provide the training they are offering?
- If I need to pass the medical assistant certification exam, does completing this course qualify me to take the exam?
- Are they reputable schools that can provide me with quality training?
Types of Medical Programs
There are four types of medical assistant programs you can choose from:
The medical assistant certificate program is the most basic of the programs in that it specializes in just a specific area or skill of medical assistance. Furthermore, like most certificate programs, it doesn’t provide a broad view, and is most often suited for those who have already passed the certification exam for medical assistants but would like to gain additional knowledge or specialization in a particular aspect of medical assisting.
A medical assistant certificate program usually takes just one semester, or even less, to complete; however, completing a certificate program does not usually qualify a student to take the certification exam for medical assistants.
Medical assistant diploma programs are almost always broader in scope than their certificate program counterparts. They provide an overview of most of the aspects of being a medical assistant, which often include the following:
- medical law
- clinical procedures
- office management
- medical terminology
- anatomy and physiology
A medical assistant diploma program usually takes two to three semesters to complete and, if it includes clinical practice, may qualify a student to take the certification exam for medical assistants provided the school offering the program is accredited for this purpose.
Associate Degree Program
Medical assistant associate programs are shortened versions of bachelor degree programs and offer more specific training in medical assistance than a diploma program. They almost always include clinical practice in one or more areas of medical assisting and take around 2 years to complete, almost always qualifying a student to take the certification exam for medical assistants for as long as the school offering the degree is accredited for this purpose.
Bachelor’s Degree Program
The medical assistant bachelor’s degree program is a full course on medical assisting and is the most in-depth among the four options. It covers all the major aspects of medical assistance and should include a good amount of clinical practice.
The medical assistant bachelor’s degree program requires 4 to 5 years of study and almost always qualifies a student to take the certification exam for medical assistants provided the school offering the degree is accredited for this purpose.
How Important Are Medical School Rankings?
Medical school rankings can be useful tools in determining the quality of education that medical assistant school provide. However, it’s important for you to consider two factors to be able to make the best use of such school rankings.
What were the criteria for the rankings?
A ranking of certified medical assistant schools that doesn’t indicate the criteria for the list is almost definitely unreliable. However, if the list identifies criteria that you believe match your own standards for choosing among the various medical assistant schooling and then the ranking will most likely be useful to you.
Who determined the rankings?
If there is no indication of who ranked the medical assistant schools in a list, the rankings on that list are most likely suspect. However, if the entity that released the rankings is a reputable one with knowledge in medical assistance, then the rankings are most likely reliable and will probably be of use to you in choosing from among the various medical assisting schools out there.
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